Toumani Diabate, who plays the 21-string kora, won the Grammy this year for best traditional world music album for “In the Heart of the Moon,” a collaboration with Ali Farka Touré. Mr. Diabate is a descendant of 53 generations of kora players from the Malinke tribe. (Ed Alcock for The New York Times)
From the New York Times:
By Josh Hammer
WE were walking down a dirt road in a neighborhood of Bamako with the mellifluous name of Badalabougou, following the rhythmic beating of a bongo drum. Then we saw it: down an alley lined with dusty neem trees and flowering jacarandas, a few hundred wedding celebrants had gathered under a canopy made from scraps of United Nations-issue sheeting, intently watching a local percussion band play a rousing music known as deedadee.
Lithe male dancers wearing leather headdresses, cowrie-studded orange vests, burlap shorts and iron bangles leapt and shook rice-filled calabashes known as yabbaras. A jembe fola ("he who talks with the drum") pounded on a bongo fashioned from sheets of horsehide stretched over a gasoline can. Another percussionist banged a grooved metal cylinder called a karinyan.
Then the dancers disappeared and a petite female singer moved in, circling through the crowd and singing praises to relatives of the bride and groom. Suddenly, she began gesticulating in our direction, while guests looked on, amused.
"She is singing about you," one told me. "She is praising you for visiting Mali."